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The history of the unique Palekh painting
Palekh is a town in Ivanovo Oblast, Russia. According to legend, its name comes from the verb "to burn".
Legendary village
Once fleeing from the invasion of the Tatars from Vladimir and Suzdal, people fled to dense forests. They burned the forest near the river and built houses on this site, calling the resulting village Palekh, and the river – Paleshka. Among those who fled were Suzdal monks-icon painters. This is how icon painting was born in Palekh
In the 17th century the Palekh painting decorated icons and churches only. «Sacred» paintings were made by artisans from the small town of Palekh, whose artful hands painted and restored the most significant cultural heritage sites: the Palace of the Facets in the Moscow Kremlin, a church in the Holy Trinity-St. Sergius Lavra, the Novodevichy Convent.
The primary distinctive feature of the craftsmen’ style was displayed in miniature icons. A small surface would be covered with a plethora of tiny images and multiple mini scenes with finely detailed character faces. Masterful details were highlighted by gold paint.
After the Great October Socialist Revolution, former masters were forced to turn to peasant labor (there was a ban on icon painting). In the 1920s, some Paleshans began to paint wooden boxes, trying to give life to their art in new times. This is how the Palekh artel of decorative painting appeared. However, at first they did not pay attention to new products.
Then, taking Lukutin’s miniatures on black caskets and papier-mâché boxes as a model, the artisans from Palekh decided to make the same ones, but using the icon-painting technique. Products immediately "shot" at the All-Union Agricultural Exhibition of 1923: Paleshians received a diploma of the first degree.
On December 5, 1924 Palekh icon painters Ivan Golikov, Ivan Markichev, Ivan Bakanov, Ivan and Alexander Zubkov and also Alexander and Vladimir Kotukhin, coming from a long line of icon painters, founded an Ancient Painting Cooperative Association in Palekh and went to creating miniature lacquer paintings. The artists made their own lacquer and papier mache and painted with egg-based paints and gold paints.
Italians even offered to bring in several artists to set up a school and create similar exquisite miniatures, but Russian artists were reluctant to leave their homeland
The West, which for the first time came to see the unique Palekh art at the Venice Art Vernisage in 1924, was overwhelmed with the talent of Russian artisans.
In 1932 the Union of Palekh Artists was established. In 1935 the cooperative association was transformed into the Association of Palekh Artists, and 1954 saw the foundation of the Palekh art and production workshop of the USSR Art Foundation. In 1960s — early 1980s Palekh art flashed all of its colors on postcards, lacquer boxes, trays and post stamps, becoming an integral symbol of the country. The Palekh Artists Association, the co-author of the modern Palekh Watch, was established in 1989.
In 2020 Global Rus Trade corporation created the Palekh Watch brand. The art of Palekh painters emerged for a new era.
Palekh Evolution
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